Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
Swarthmore baseball
Swarthmore has enjoyed a solid five-year stretch of success, boasting two NCAA Tournament appearances, a duo of Centennial Conference pennants, and a memorable journey to the NCAA College World Series. 

Despite a slight stumble last year, finishing 20-18-1 with a 9-8-1 conference record, head coach Matt Midkiff is optimistic about his team's prospects for a rebound season. 

"Last year wasn't really what we've come to expect," Midkiff admitted. "But things seem a lot more where they should be this year. The talent is there, and we've got some maturity now that, because of the COVID seasons, we didn't have." 

The Garnet's pitching rotation is anchored by the return of junior Liam Alpern, coming off a stellar 2023 campaign where he earned Centennial Conference Pitcher of the Year honors and secured spots on the All-Conference First Team as well as the All-Region First Team by the American Baseball Coaches Association. 

Alpern's standout performance included leading Swarthmore in multiple categories such as ERA (1.50), WHIP (0.92), wins (4), innings pitched (60.0), and strikeouts (63). His impressive stats ranked him among the top pitchers in Division III, placing fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (5.02), sixth in ERA, and 10th in WHIP. 

"He was extremely consistent last year and probably should have been an All-American," Midkiff said. "He was filling the zone, throwing multiple types of pitches for strikes, keeping everything at the knees ... it's the recipe for success at this level. We expect the same thing from him this year, and though he's added a few miles-per-hour to his fastball, the movement and location will be what helps him succeed." 

Behind Alpern, sophomore Noah Potholm returns to the rotation, looking to build off a solid campaign last year where he finished with a 3.49 ERA over 59 1/3 innings while posting a 1.16 WHIP. 

"He's your old-school Greg Maddux type of guy," Midkiff said. "Ball will run and sink. He had some great outings for us last year and has been great here in the early going, so it appears he'll pick up right where he left off." 

The Garnet also expect junior lefty Joshua Rankey to take a step forward and contribute in a starting role. He made five starts last year and posted a 5.22 ERA over ten appearances. 

"He's looked really good for us in the preseason," Midkiff said. "The ball really runs out of his hand." 

Offensively, sophomore Aidan Sullivan emerged as one of the top rookies in the area last year, earning a First-Team selection by and clinching the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year title. Sullivan's offensive prowess was evident with a .392 batting average, a .444 on-base percentage, and a .767 slugging percentage. He ranked third in the conference in slugging percentage and led with 17 doubles, along with contributing eight home runs and two triples, accumulating 40 RBIs throughout the season. 

"The crazy thing for him is he was coming off Tommy John surgery last year, so he was just a DH for us to start," Midkiff said. "He didn't really get a lot of time to ease into things. He's excited to be back playing defense again. He had such a good command of the strike zone and doesn't chase, so if they want to walk him four times in a game, he'll take it." 

Other key returning bats include senior Jett Shue and junior Matt Silvestre. Shue hit .339 over 35 games last season while posting a .400 on-base percentage with 17 stolen bases. Silvestre finished with 34 RBIs while hitting .315. 

Swarthmore opens the 2024 season on Friday with a doubleheader against Montclair State and Mount Aloysius in Aberdeen, Maryland.

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Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis